Every staff member at Formando Vidas is a volunteer working from the heart. In the end, God always supplies somehow. Some of the staff are old and some are young. Each are united by the common cause of helping change the spiritual and economic landscape of Bogotá, Colombia. Some staff members even go on to start their own ministries in other countries. We are amazed by the number of kids God has allowed Formando Vidas to reach.
Steve talks about the staff at Formando Vidas
Steve & Evie BARTEL
Steve and Evie have pioneered and led almost all of the seven stages, though the most costly emotional investment has been the one of long term re-parenting. Since 1985, their family home
has housed street children, usually between 8 and 12 kids at a time, from tiny infants to teenagers, living with their own children as well. Steve is now called “Papito Stevan” (Daddy Steve), and Evie is called “Mamita Evi” (Mommy Evie). Since these children don’t have other families that care for them, Evie, especially, is considered “Mom” by over a hundred grateful “children” of all ages.
Carolina is a psychologist and her heart’s desire when she graduated from university was to serve and help dysfunctional families heal the wounds in their hearts. That’s why she has been serving in different functions with Formando Vidas ever since 2003. She has training in several areas that affect children and families, such as: abuse prevention, individual and family intervention, and psycopedagogy. Over the years, Carolina has coordinated Light and Life school, the “Families” team, evaluated and counseled kids and teens, and helped capacitate the staff in several different topics.
Among her dreams, Carolina desires to see families transformed by the power of God, being His instrument, in inner healing and restoration of the lives that God places in our path. She also hopes to further prepare herself in applicable topics of psychology, and to serve those in need, with God’s guidance and wisdom.
God has given her a family that motivates her in her work every day. In her free time, Carolina likes to spend time with friends and family, read, and cook. She thanks God for her life, for her family, and for letting her work in this ministry.
This Colombian lady has a real servant’s heart, she likes to be where the action is right in the heart of the ministry. She has served in many areas over the years and is currently volunteering in a ministry of The Other Way called Seeds of Hope, helping with a group for teenage mothers. She has three children; her daughter, Sandra, also works with Formando Vidas. Belen is a prayer warrior, is very involved in her local church, and likes joking around.
This lady is very committed in her work at Light and Life school. A mother of two and a grandmother, she contributes a lot to the staff at Light and Life
, and also in her church, where she is a Sunday School teacher. At the school she helps to cook, teach devotionals, and is always giving smiles to all the kids.
Lilia is a nurse and radiologist, and hopes to continue working with children in the future. Her hobbies include swimming, and she really likes practicing different sports, especially hiking. She looks forward to completing a DTS (hopefully in Spain) soon.
This Colombian lady is the daughter of another staff member of Formando Vidas, Belén Caicedo. They became aware of this ministry a long time ago, thanks to the work of God in their lives and the Bartels’ friendship and discipleship. Currently, Sandra serves in a part of The Other Way called Seeds of Hope, teaching and discipling teenage mothers. She also works in hospitality and supporting Evie Bartel in her work. She says that one of her favorite things about being a part of this ministry is seeing how God is always moving and working in unique ways.
Matilde is a cheerful Colombian volunteer who has been part of our staff for several years. She spends a lot of her time helping in Club de Amigos, and has also been part of Light and Life school and Continuing Education program. Matilde always has a smile, a laugh and a hug for folks. She is also involved in her church’s youth outreaches, and likes riding her bike when and where she can.
For the past four years, this Colombian volunteer has been helping at Light and Life School and our Continuing Education
program. He also serves in Cazuca leading a discipleship group for teenage boys. He has studied pre-school education. After doing a DTS in January 2012 in Argentina, and has returned to continue working with Formando Vidas. In his free time, Gonzalo likes to read Christian literature on a variety of subjects and watch movies, while drinking a bottomless cup of black coffee!
For seven years Clemencia was the coordinator of the Kiwi House. These days she continues to be a foster mom to a teenage girl. Clemencia is also involved in the accounting department of the ministry.
This wise woman has a great sense of humor, and can often been found in the centre of a group in laughter. She likes to read, and she plays a mean game of dominoes. She hopes to someday expand her ministry into conference speaking engagements.
Tommy and Sherry GJELOSHANI
Tommy and Sherry are a delightful, cross-cultural couple who God has led to our team. Tommy met Sherry, from Trinidad, when they worked together with YWAM in his native Albania. They have a lot of joy in serving God where he has them, and feel a passion and burden to work with families. After getting to know different areas of our ministry, they are commited to serving in Club de Amigos with the different childrens, youth and women’s ministries there (and whatever else God leads). They are both eager students of Spanish and Tommy helps lead our times of worship as a ministry.
This Australian grandmother of ten is a fresh breath of air to our ministry. She lives in a very poor slum in the south of Bogota. She works with over 400 children and young people in “Club de Amigos,” a Bible and craft clubs, discipleship groups, and also mommy classes. She is a prayer warrior whose love and perseverance are making an impact with the gospel in this community. Mary loves reading, caring for her houseplants, and always has a warm smile and a hug for everyone.
Peter has grown up in this ministry, so he says he has been with YWAM for over twenty years so far. He came to live in Formando Vidas when he was a small child, and is grateful for the changes that have occurred in his life and for his future generations.
He completed his DTS and Counseling schools with YWAM and currently helps in many ways around the ministry. He can often be found helping out with the children at the farm or taking kids to and from school. Peter´s great passion is urban dance, which he teaches the children so that they will have fun, develop healthily, and learn to express themselves in a positive way with their peers and in society. He has studied dance and English, and hopes to use those talents to the glory of God, no matter where he goes. These days, he is studying in a local Bible institute in the mornings. When he’s not exercising or reading for class, Peter likes to sleep.
This joyful, sweet young woman joined our team from rural Pennsylvania. She is helping in one of our 24-hour-care homes, as well as going to Cazuca one day a week and to the Jungle Club every time the doors are opened! Before coming to Colombia, Michele had missions experience in Brazil and Guatemala, in addition to doing her DTS in Hawaii and China. Her dream for the future is to continue working with kids on the streets, showing them how incredibly much their heavenly Father loves them. Some day, she hopes to have a “safe place” for people on the streets to go, be fed, loved on, and discipled. She likes being outside “in God’s awesome creation”, sports, and spontaneous adventures. Michele also likes cooking – and we like eating her food!
Ingrid Letendre joins our team from Alberta, Canada. This fun-loving lady is always laughing (and screaming) as she plays and jokes with the kids and staff. She spent 2009 with Formando Vidas, then returned to work in Canada before completing a DTS in Iquitos, Peru. Now she is back with us. Ingie has missions experience in several countries, including Haiti, Honduras, and Mexico. This woman is passionate about God, youth and children’s work, snow, and ice hockey (go Oilers!). A licensed social worker, she has years’ experience working with families and family violence. With Formando Vidas, she has fingers in a lot of pots, so to speak – she has worked in Light and Life school, continues to help in Friends’ Club, and in other areas as she can. In 2013 one of her dreams came true, opening a youth camp in Colombia! In October of 2013 she led 30 teenage girls to Camp Gozo for 4 days. Since then, she has led more camps each year and is now looking for land to establish a permanent place for Camp Gozo. Other than Jesus and hockey, she says that summer camp is pretty much the best thing ever.
Carlos & Katrina PAEZ
Carlos and Katrina are a Colombian/New Zealand couple who have a passion for children. Katrina has worked in almost every area of the ministry since 1993 when she arrived from New Zealand. Carlos joined us in 2000 as he was dividing his time between his works as an environmental chemist for the Colombian government and volunteering with us translating and tutoring children in residential care.
They went to New Zealand as a family the first time in 2003 with their sons Alex and Simon to do a Family Discipleship Training School with YWAM in Matamata. The family was later blessed wonderfully in Colombia with the birth of Gabriela in 2006.
Now as a family they are involved in the administrative and leadership of the ministry. They attempt to keep the ministry running smoothly legally and effectively. Their children keep them sane by giving them enjoyable reasons to leave the computer or meetings. Carlos spends his free time translating Christian books and Katrina wonders what free time is!
Julio and Emily PEÑA
They met in Formando Vidas, were the first couple married on the ministry’s farm, and plan to continue in Colombia “until God leads otherwise.” Julio and Emily have a heart to be family for children from broken homes and to see families restored and regenerated. They are currently the coordinators of the Oaks House
, with four children under their care.
Emily likes gardening, singing, writing, artsy stuff, and Tabbycat (their pet). Julio likes laughing, raising chickens, photography, and teaching. He doesn’t like being late, or Tabbycat.
This vibrant Venezuelan man is the coordinator of the “Chamos” (Friends) House
and The Jungle Club
. Alex loves cooking, entertaining guests, and joking around with everyone! He has been with Formando Vidas since 1998, when he was nineteen and visiting Colombia. God spoke to him about working with street children. He accepted that challenge, and continues to live it today. He began by working in the “Friendship and Trust”
stage of the ministry, then brought a group of kids into the “Oasis,”
our 24-hour transition home. When the Oasis kids were ready, he continued with 12 of them into the re-parenting stage. It has been challenging to demonstrate the love of a father in their lives, but after several years, he has been able to see the fruits of what has been planted. One of those young people is now in missions himself, in Chile.
We have been very blessed to have this Latina woman of God as part of the team. Bibiana is from Venezuela, she came in early 2007 to attend the Children at Risk Training School. While there God confirmed her call to this ministry. Since September 2007, she is been the coordinator of the Kiwi House
, where she experiences God’s love and teaching through working with the children. In 2015 she participated in YWAM’s Leadership Development School in Iquitos, Peru. In 2016, she became part of the ministry’s leadership team.
This capable woman shows lots of commitment and has a big, welcoming heart to all. She loves to make arepas
and is a great cook! She is very hospitable and will open the door of her house every time with her beautiful smile!
God sent this darling dame all the way from The United Kingdom! Becka has known she wanted to be a missionary in Colombia ever since she was a wee young lass, and studied Spanish in University in preparation for the life she dreamed of living. Becka spent a year teaching in Northern Colombia before coming to work with Formando Vidas in April of 2012. After several years working at Light & Life school, teaching and mentoring, and a time serving in Seeds of Hope ministry to teen moms, Becka now focuses her strength and energy in Club de Amigos. She leads teen girls’ discipleship and single moms’ sewing and discipleship classes. Her gentle and compassionate presence is a constant blessing to the children and women there, a tangible expression to them of God’s patience and love. Becka is an authentic worshipper, a clever cook, and a pretty painter. Becka has a huge heart for Colombia: she loves the diversity in this country and her people and would love to stay here for a very long time!
This lady from Bogotá has been with Formando Vidas for four years. She currently helps in the kitchen at Light and Life
school, and is also a big help as a teacher aid. Before she served with us, Ludivia helped in the YWAM Bogotá ministry “Rise and Shine,” where she helped the children with their homework. In 2009 she completed her DTS at the YWAM base in Leticia, Colombia.
Ludivia hopes to study psychology some day, with a specialization in working with at-risk children. In her free time she likes to read and she also loves playing basketball – watch out, Michael Jordan!
Sonia is a Colombian-trained teacher and Christian counselor. Since 1999 she has been caring for Diana Giselle, who has now finished high school and is now studying at a local Bible College.
Sonia has been with the Street Children’s Ministry for approx. 20 years. In this time she has worked in all of the areas from Friendship & Trust to long-term care. She also serves in the general leadership of the ministry and in 2015 completed a Leadership Development School in Iquitos, Peru. She enjoys teaching about at-risk children, and hopes to finish studying pastoral psychology. Sonia likes to read in her free time, and has a deep prayer life with the Lord. A dream that she and Diana have is to have a house of their own. Sonia likes joking around and has an impressive collection of earrings.